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A home in Kerala that’s perfect for two generations

  • Interior Design
By Anubha George
8 min read
Mar 26, 2021


It’s a warm and humid day in Thrissur, the city known as the cultural capital of Kerala. Thrissur literally means a small sacred place. It is true to its name: the entire city is built around a hillock with the famous Vadakumnathan Shiva temple sitting on top as if it keeps an eye on the town. When we drive up to KP Prabhakar’s tharavad, or ancestral home, a short drive away from the city centre, the quaint charm of the house welcomes us. There are trees, hundreds of them, surrounding the house, making it feel cooler than the mercury suggests, and making this 40-year-old house delectably lush and green.  

KP Prabhakar’s tharavad, or ancestral home, is a 2,000 square feet property surrounded by a pond, plants, and paddy fields. “This house felt like a cardboard box, it had a lot of walls, small rooms and windows. We wanted to modernise it,” says Prabhakar. So just before India went into lockdown in March 2020, Prabhakar enlisted the help of his designer friend Avinash Joshy, owner and founder of Kochi-based Studio Nirvana. The lockdown came with its own challenges but Avinash was undeterred to make his first renovation a success. Nearly a year on, the result is a magical space with stunning views of paddy fields in the middle of the city.

Lockdown Project

Prabhakar grew up in this house. His grandparents still live here. Even though he’s set himself up in Dubai, he visits often. “This house felt like a cardboard box. It had a lot of walls, small rooms and windows. We wanted to modernise it,” he says.  So just before India went into lockdown in March 2020, Prabhakar enlisted the help of his designer friend Avinash Joshy, owner and founder of Kochi-based Studio Nirvana. “I asked my grandparents if they’d be willing for us to renovate the house and they agreed. I didn’t think they would, but they did,” Prabhakar says.

The lockdown came with its own challenges. Avinash had hired people to come and work at the house. Now, stuck within containment zones, they couldn’t leave their homes. Avinash was undeterred. This was his first renovation and he wanted to make it a success. He’s glad he didn’t give up because nearly a year on, the result is a magical space with stunning views of paddy fields in the middle of the city. 

New Meets Old

While Prabhakar wanted to change the DNA of the house, his grandparents were particular about retaining some spaces in the house. A patio, for example, which had been turned into a parking space, they now wanted it back. “The patio is where they used to have their evening tea; play cards with their friends and gossip. They have that back now and they love it,” he says.
 

The living space in this property is about 2,000 square feet, including the ground and first floor. “The grandparents live downstairs and Prabhakar wanted to use the first floor to entertain his friends. So the two floors were totally different 

The porch and the main entrance area of the house is also used as a sitting space. The trees and plants keep the house cool, making it a comfortable place for visitors.

concepts and for different purposes,” Avinash says. “We wanted to keep the familiarity they have with the house but also bring in some new elements”.
 

New Meets Old

While Prabhakar wanted to change the DNA of the house, his grandparents were particular about retaining some spaces in the house. A patio, for example, which had been turned into a parking space, they now wanted it back. “The patio is where they used to have their evening tea; play cards with their friends and gossip. They have that back now and they love it,” he says.
 

The living space in this property is about 2,000 square feet, including the ground and first floor. “The grandparents live downstairs and Prabhakar wanted to use the first floor to entertain his friends. So the two floors were totally different concepts and for different purposes,” Avinash says. “We wanted to keep the familiarity they have with the house but also bring in some new elements”.

Designed by Avinash Joshy, owner and founder of Kochi-based Studio Nirvana, the ancestral home belongs to KP Prabhakar and his grandparents. While Prabhakar wanted to change the DNA of the house, his grandparents were particular about retaining some spaces in the house. “This tharavad was all mixed up. Our aim was to unify the entire space. And we have succeeded in making it a home where two generations live in harmony,” adds Avinash.

Avinash played around with the 600 square feet on the first floor. What we now have instead of the five small and dark rooms is a spacious living space with light pouring in from all sides and a breezy terrace. He used darker shades for the finish alongside a black oxide floor. The two old mango trees provide shade on the terrace making it a place you can sit all day.
 

“This tharavad was all mixed up. Our aim was to unify the entire space. And we have succeeded in making it a home where two generations live in harmony,” Avinash says. Indeed, this is an airy, open, bright house with soul and an old school charm that makes you want to pause and appreciate the times gone by.

KP Prabhakar’s grandparents are the owners of the house in Thrissur. He’s based in Dubai but was keen to get the house renovated.
The dining area on the ground floor. The walls on either sides were knocked down to create more room and let light flood in from either side.
The first floor corridor has glass doors (seen on the right) which also double up as windows. They open out to the terrace where you can relax with your friends or just enjoy the greenery.
This patio area was created from scratch on unused land. This space was landscapes while retaining the existing trees, plants and shrubs. The flooring is natural stone.
The glass doors create spaciousness with light pouring in from the terrace.
This is the ground floor living area. The house is surrounded by lush green paddy fields. It’s the green that’s highlighted everywhere around the house.
This is the terrace on the first floor. It’s not fully covered. The idea was to have the mango trees shade it partially, yet leave it partially uncovered so you can look up at the sky and enjoy its beauty.
This patio area was created from scratch on unused land. This space was landscapes while retaining the existing trees, plants and shrubs. The flooring is natural stone.
The backyard on the ground floor. The view from here is the paddy fields that surround this property. The ceiling is polycarbonate sheets that filter in the light.
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